Royal Freemasons housing evacuees

By Simon Ruppert

Royal Freemasons Benalla has been hosting 20 evacuees from recent bushfires near Bright and Corryong.

Facilities manager David Gullick said the aged-care facility was approached by homes in areas being evacuated requesting help.

“We had a phone call a couple of weeks ago asking if we could look after 20 elderly people from Bright,” Mr Gullick said.

“They had been affected by the bushfires and they were evacuated to us on a Saturday afternoon.

“So we took those guys in, and we had another phone call later that evening asking if we could take seven residents from a community near Corryong - So we accepted them as well.

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“The guys from Bright also sent over five staff members who worked on a roster and we provided them accommodation in some of our spare rooms as well.

“The residents from Corryong didn't come with any staff, so we just increased our staffing to make sure they were looked after.

“We had lots of staff put their hands up to do some extra shifts, too, which helped a lot.”

Thing are beginning to get back to normal at the Royal Freemasons with the residents from Bright leaving on Friday and the others due to leave today.

“They've had no power in their home up in Corryong for a week and a half, but that is restored now, so they are headed home this morning,” Mr Gullick said.

“This type of thing does happen in emergencies and the aged-care facilities generally help each other out.

“I know some people were looked after in Numurkah and Yarrawonga and a couple of other places as well.

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“When this type of thing happens everyone just jumps in and tries to help out.”

Corryong Health Retirement Village resident Susan Davies said it was worrying to be told they had to evacuate.

“It was very scary, but we just had to go,” Ms Davies said.

“It was a big relief to be told we had somewhere to go, and we are very grateful to David and all the staff at Royal Freemasons for looking after us.

“We are very excited to be heading home today. We are starting to run out of clothes so it will be good to get back.

“We are very happy that the rain arrived today, and I've been told it's raining up in Corryong at the moment, too, which is much needed.”